Posted on Jun 12, 2020
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Hello everyone! I was recently notified that I was accepted by the March/May board for warrant officer flight training active duty. This was great news however, I was non select during the January active board and as a result pursued the national guard avaiton route shortly after. I was accepted into the CA NG recently, and now I am at a crossroad. I have both routes open to me, both having their perks but am not sure which path would be best for me. I am 28 years old and do desire to finish up college and hopefully a decade down the road fly for commercial airlines. I am open to any and all advice that will help me make the right choice as I know this decision will have long lasting ramifications, thank you for your time!
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CPT Nicholas D.
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There are pros and cons to both routes. I can share a few:

Duty Location: (RA) needs of the Army. You get a “wish list.” Some get it. Some don’t. Get ready to PCS every couple years. (ARNG) will be a return to your home state. There’s no requirement that you have to live near your unit, but logistically, it improves quality of life if it isn’t a far commute. Plus, you’ll probably work with the same people, same units, same SOP for years/decades. That can be good or bad.

Paycheck: RA is full Active Duty Pay & Benefits. ARNG will be how much you work or what status you are in. If you are Active Guard Reserve (AGR) then you get full Active Duty Pay and Allowances. If you are a drilling reservist (M-DAY or TPU... part-time) then you will get paid a pro-rated amount for each duty period performed. 1 period = 1 Active Duty Pay Day. If you do a 4 period drill, then you get paid 4/30ths (2/15) of an Active Duty Paycheck. Then there are up to 72 Additional Flight Training Periods (AFTPs), 2-3 weeks of Annual Training (AT), and don’t forget schools and orders to help around the unit... most Guard Pilots make between 20K and 45K part-time. It’s an awesome part time job while you fly for a “Time Building” company. And then there is the T32 Tech program. You still get drills and AFTPs, but then your GS job is to fly at the support facility as an Instructor Pilot or Safety Officer. A little bit of both.

Flight Hours: Minimums are spelled out in the Training Manuals. Both RA and ARNG are REQUIRED to fly the same amount. RA might see a cockpit a few more times a week, but most of that will be flying around the reservation. ARNG pilots typically spend more time flying around the National Airspace (their home towns versus a big base.) Full time ARNG can fly just as much if not more than their most of their RA brethren.

Aircraft Assignments: RA will compete on an OML. The seats available for choosing are “needs of the army.” ARNG will select from the aircraft available in the state (and offered by the state.) An RA Soldier doesn’t find out what they will be flying until the Half-Time Draft Day. The ARNG Soldier will know before they pack their U-Haul to PCS to Fort Rucker.

Service Obligation: Both are now 10 years. 10 years of Active Duty or 10 years of as much as you want. If you get an AGR job in the Guard and not enjoying it, you can resign. If you lost your civilian job, then the Guard is a good safety net and jump on some Active Duty orders. The RA is going to give you a level of permanence and stability. The Guard will give you flexibility.

I could keep going, but last point. You aren’t going to walk off of 10 years of Active Duty flying Apaches and take your right seat on a Delta 737 with a starting salary of $91K. The only way an Active Army career will get you to the majors will be if you land Fixed Wing in Flight School and the HRC gods are good to you with assignments. If you’re going to be a career (or 10 year) Army Helicopter Pilot, you’re going to have to learn to fly an airplane on your own before you’re hauling pax. Sure, there are RTPs (Rotary Transition Programs) but those are to land the entry level Regional gigs and who knows if they will still be a thing in 10 years. COVID delayed the “hiring surge” at the majors for a few more years, but in 11-12 years (the 10 year ADSO doesn’t start until you graduate), seniority lists might be well stacked with the next gen. In the Guard, you could get that RTP rocking in as little as 500 hours and then you are working your way to that journey to that Big Iron Left seat making $250-500K WHILE you are fulfilling your service obligation.

I’m happy to chat more, but that’s a good start. My favorite thing in the Army is flying. Second favorite is TALKING about flying.

Good luck!
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SGM Recruiting and Retention NCO (ANG)
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CPT Dixon has given so much great info. Taking nothing away from active duty but the Guard offers so many more opportunities now than what it did in the old days. I had 30 years with the Army Guard and 25 years AGR. The one thing to consider is where will your work full time to pay the rent? Yes - there are many full time jobs in the Guard and many at the flight facility. Yes, you can get flight hours, other than weekend drills, that will pay your rank and TIS. (One full day active duty base pay for every 4 hours worked) I have a Guard pilot friend from church that went every Wednesday, drew a aircraft, and went flying with a fellow Guard pilot buddy. One thing to check......and maybe CPT Dixon could answer this, here in the Indianapolis area, Life Line pilots always seem to be in need, utility companies also hire chopper pilots - not sure tho how many hours you need for qualify, but someplace to look. Also, check out the CA National Guard web site, they generally list full time jobs that are open. Good luck....just as an FYI, I was a recruiter in the Army Guard for 15 of my 25 active years and after retirement, I worked for the Indiana National Guard HR office - so I have seen the Guard transition into a what it is today.....
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SGT Multichannel Transmission Systems Operator/Maintainer
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CPT Nicholas D. Can I get an AGR position as an M-Day pilot?
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CPT Nicholas D.
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SGT (Join to see) As an M-Day Pilot, you absolutely could apply for an AGR position. If you are selected or “hired,” your Status changes from M-Day to AGR. Most people retire from the AGR program when they hit 20 years Active Duty. But... you could resign (or defer your retirement after 20) and return to M-Day. Something for everyone.
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SGT Multichannel Transmission Systems Operator/Maintainer
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CPT Nicholas D. Thank you sir.
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CSM Darieus ZaGara
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It should be as simple as what do you want from life. Commercial pilot, you should have your answer.
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MAJ Byron Oyler
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Warrants on here may say something different and until they do, go active as you will not get enough hours in flight school to be hired into a commercial job as a part-time guardsman. I would find out how many hours you get in flight school as the minimum for a civilian CFI is 250. CFI is how a lot of guys build their hours towards obtaining a commercial gig. I fly for a hobby fixed wing and while I know the FAR/AIM well, warrants on here will be a better source of info.
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I appreciate the input sir, thank you!
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